By: Doug Bear
Recently I rambled through the Mokelumne Wilderness to Mokelumne Pk., elevation 9,334’. It was a very good walk in a wild forest setting to an infrequently visited peak. I had difficulty finding good information on how to drive to and hike up the peak. I also had difficulty finding the Tanglefoot trailhead and made some wrong turns. The Bear River Reservoir is a maze of logging roads, most of which go nowhere. I took some notes on the way out to help those who desire to visit this enchanted little peak. It is a fabulous Summer or Autumn dayhike. I would avoid the area during July 4th, Labor Day or hunting season, unless solitude and quiet is not a must. Midweek should be peaceful.
MOKELUMNE PK.- THE DRIVE:
From Highway 88 - 9.7 miles paved; 3.7 “good to fair” dirt road (on the DPS “dirt scale”). Carefully driven sedans may make it, but a little clearance is helpful. Also, the road signs changed from my first visit. Look for the “Shriner” or “Tanglefoot” trail signs.
*paved Portion: Set trip odometer to 0.0. From Hwy.88, drive in toward Lower Bear River Reservoir. Odometer readings may vary.
1.9 Fork on the left - go straight ahead (sign says “South Shore CG 1 and Cole Creek 8”) and immediately pass thru a gate (green sign says the road will close Dec.01 or due to weather, which ever comes first). Cross the Dam (one lane in one spot) elev. 5,800’ +
*Dirt Portion: Set odometer to 0.0 after turning left onto 8N14.
0.0 Sign says “dead-end road 8N14” (it may have fallen).
MOKELUMNE PK.- THE HIKE:
Approx. 13-14 mi. r-t with 3,700’+ gain for the round trip. Most hikers would take between 5 (fast) and 9 (normal) hrs. total. It is Class 1+: Trail and easy cross-country (some low brush). Both times I did the hike I saw no one.
From the TH the trail gains about 200’ or so and enters the Mokelumne Wilderness after a quarter mile. The trail climbs a little more, then levels off and passes a scenic meadow which can be seen on the left. After a mile or so from the trailhead, a junction is reached (marked by a wood post in 2002). The left fork goes to Shriner Lk., the right fork to Tanglefoot Canyon. Go right and switchback DOWN into Tanglefoot Cyn. The trail bottoms out at 6,300’ and now it’s 3,000’ up to the peak. The creek was dry as I crossed it, but I saw a log crossing on the left (if it was flowing). Regain the trail and switchback upsiope to Moraine Lk., 3.5 miles from the trailhead (this is a nice spot for a break and the only sure water along the route). Continue on the trail through delightful red fir forest for about 1.5 miles past the lake. The trail is faint in a few places along this stretch. En route (about 1+ mile from the lake) you’ll pass a large flat area covered with short (1 foot high) manzanita. Just beyond this area of short brush the trail begins to zigzag uphill. Leave the trail here and go right (ENE) and hike cross-country about one mile, aiming for the saddle between Mokelumne Pk. and the subsidiary summit 8,628’ a mile or so to the west of the peak. The brush is not bad - it is very short. If you aim for the trees you will avoid some of it. Do not climb the subsidiary summit, because the brush gets higher. From the saddle, where beautiful views open to the north, hike east on pleasant terrain for about 1 mile to the summit. The last 300’ is hard class 1 or easy class 2 boulders. There’s a neat chain of little lakes 800 feet below the summit to the NW. Return the same way. Be alert! Do not wander down the wrong way or you could become very lost. There’s 500’ of gain on the return from the bottom of Tanglefoot Canyon.
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